Posted by: Jennifer | March 6, 2010

Bloom where you’re planted?

       I’ve always wondered about the quote, “bloom where you’re planted.” The concept is inspiring, admonishing us to flourish where God has placed us. But trying to coach flowers out of plants in my over-shaded Florida yard, I’ve had to rethink my application of the quote.
       Plants will not bloom unless they have water, the right soil type, and the correct amount of sunlight. I learned this from painful experience…I’ve planted bougainvilla in no less than four different places in my yard and FINALLY, this amateur gardener has one small, potted, blooming bougainvilla! It just required drier soil (which I’ve achieved in a pot) and full sunlight.
       It was during one of these plant relocations that I found myself rather irritated with the whole “bloom where you’re planted” concept. If plants have physical constraints that prevent them from flourishing then obviously people do too! Yes, God is in control and can give grace and strength for immobile situations, but what of those areas we can alter?
       Homeschooling provides a wonderful example. After successfully teaching Sunshine and our neighbor’s son how to read with the ABeka phonics program, I decided to branch out and use a program more suited to Sweetie’s temperament. Well, I was wrong. Her reading skills stagnated, and within a few weeks, she had shriveled into a little girl who hated reading. Eventually I woke up, reminding myself that the beauty of homeschooling was the freedom to alter the teaching style, and I “changed the soil.” I switched her over to the ABeka program and now she’s blossomed into a little reader.
       Changing gears mid-year is a pain, just like pulling up that dratted bougainvilla and replanting it took time and effort (actually my husband’s time and effort – he calls the plant ‘evil’ since its thorns attack when you least expect it!) But at last, I have a blooming little bougainvilla and a blossoming reader!
       Instead of “bloom where you’re planted,” I now prefer Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
       May you have a glorious day tending your own gardens!
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Posted by: Jennifer | February 26, 2010

Home School Hilarity

So much of what happens in a day of homeschooling leads to amusement that I started writing the funnier comments down.  Looking over them the other day, I realized I had a funny story for just about every subject and wanted to share them:

Language

Thy ___________ be done. 

In order to complete the Lord’s Prayer, my youngest (I’ll call her Sweetie) had to choose from the following list: heaven, bread, Father, and will. 

I looked down, and there was her sentence—

Thy BREAD be done. 

For some reason, that truly tickled my funny bone, probably more so because you absolutely cannot laugh at a little girl’s earnest efforts.  It was such a perfectly logical assumption for a six-year-old, don’t you think?  I could almost hear her thought process…people want to eat done bread because if it’s not done, it’s just not good.  She read my smile, though, and then with much affront, erased her rendition, and went about correcting the page.

Bible

We have friends that live a few towns north of us in Port St. Lucie, but they still go to our church and participate in all our local activities.  One afternoon when the girls were younger, we were driving to the friend’s house, and my daughters couldn’t get over how far it was.  My eldest (I’ll call her Sunshine) proclaimed if she lived that far she would find a new church.  Sweetie thought we were in another country.  (You wouldn’t think they had flown to England!) 

A few days later, we were reading about the Tower of Babel.  Trying to engage Sweetie, I asked her: “Now where were they trying to build their tower up to?” 

She looked at me, smiled the smile of a little student who just “knows this answer,” punched her fist in the air and hollered:  “Port St. Lucie!” 

Well, why not?  In her mind that was the farthest place she could think of, and a tower as high as the distance from our house to Port St. Lucie would surely be worthy of a story in the Bible!

Spanish

After unsuccessfully trying numerous Spanish books, last year I took the plunge and bought the Rosetta Stone home school version.  I’ve been very happy with my purchase and especially like the voice-matching pronunciation feature–the program will not allow us to advance unless we are pronouncing the given word or phrase correctly.  Well, Sweetie sits there, and if it won’t accept her attempt, she alters her voice and you can hear her at the computer saying, “Bebe agua” in a high sweet voice, then in a low growl, then in a whisper, and then very loudly…by which time we’re all laughing hysterically.  To make it funnier, the computer doesn’t know that the laughter isn’t an attempt at speech and it keeps dinging that she’s wrong and should try again. 

We probably won’t master Spanish anytime soon, but we’re definitely having a good time trying!

Spelling

Just last week, Sunshine was grumping about her spelling words.  Now, I know we have spell check at the touch of a button but spelling correctly is a big deal to me.  Something can be beautifully written, and if a word is spelled incorrectly, for me the whole piece will nosedive because my brain is snagged on that misspelled word.  Trying to get this idea across I ended my pep talk with, “…so it’s important to know how to spell well.” 

Her sweet response?  “I already know how, Mommy:  W-E-L-L!  There! Am I done?” 

(By the way…spell check says ‘grumping’ is not a word…!)

Reading

When we were first learning to read by sounding out words, without fail things would fall apart at the word ‘but’.   The scenario would play out something like this:

 “B-U-T… but….BUT…BUT?”  Sweetie would turn and look at me in mock horror and dramatically ask, “They said but in the book?”  Forget continuity, we would be hung up on the word “but” and apt to stay there for a while for the sole reason that, according to Sweetie, they hadn’t learned not to have a potty mouth!

Vocabulary

Last November, in the middle of a day of school, we ran to the post office so I could mail an important letter.  It was raining, so I pointed out the mail box and asked Sunshine to drop it in the slot.  I watched her, full of grown-up-importance, hesitate between two different boxes and then I groaned as she dropped it into the ‘metered mail’ slot instead of the one I had pointed out.  That’s what I got for being afraid of a few raindrops…

When she got back to the car I asked her why and she explained:  “I looked at both the boxes and the one said ‘mattered’ mail and you said this mail matters!”  She then shrugged, as if to challenge me to argue with that logic.

Thankfully a post office employee was thinking outside the (mail)box that day and our property tax check did make it on time!

Geography

And, here’s the last one for now.  I love this one since it’s not only funny, but it shows me my youngest is listening and learning way more than I realize!

Sunshine: “The Tigris and Euphrates River flow into the PERSIAN GULF.” I was impressed she remembered and said so.

“Oh,” she went on, “it’s easy to remember, we were just there this weekend in the Keys.”

I sat there confused, wondering in what alternate reality she had managed to make it to the Persian Gulf while we were in the Keys when Sweetie piped up, “That was the GULF of Mexico, silly.”  Sunshine’s eyes went wide at being corrected so handily by her little sister and Sweetie started laughing at her own brilliance and kept it up until we all joined in.

SO… if you want to study long towers while eating done bread and hearing multiple personalities shout at the Spanish computer program, please stop by.  We can read books without a ‘but,’ spell well and focus on what matters.  We’re only a short drive from any Gulf, and would love to hear of your own funniest home school/homework moments!

“After thunder, rain may be expected.”

                                  Sunshine’s rendition of our favorite quote by Socrates after his grumpy wife apparently yelled and threw a bucket of water on him as he left the house.                            

A Child’s History of the Word by Virgil M. Hillyer, p.121.

Posted by: Jennifer | February 17, 2010

Preempting a Pity Party

Over three weeks ago I started a caffeine-free trial with the hopeful outcome of controlling my migraines.  Let me just say, it hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park.  I’ve had so many headaches that keeping a headache diary has become a moot point and trying to string words together on a computer screen when I can’t bear to look at anything bright has become impossible.  But, thankfully I’ve now had three good days and feel sufficiently coherent to get this completed and posted!

If I didn’t have the book Heal Your Headache.  The 1.2.3 Solution  (David Buchholz, M.D.) as a reference I would have signed up for every brain scan my insurance would allow.  But, terrible headaches with weird side effects are apparently more common than I ever knew.  (The scariest being when I looked over at my husband one evening and he didn’t have a head…my first experience with aura, triggered, of all things, by a fresh-baked gluten-free French bread!)  Yet, according to my reading, I am not an anomaly; I am actually one of hundreds of thousands of people who experience migraine and all its awful related events. 

But, what does a person do who hates to be sick all the time?  How can you feel useful and have meaning when you are wrapped up in pain, scarcely able to open your eyes to the world around you?  It can get really depressing, especially for type-A-longing-to-accomplish-everything-on-my-list me!  I’ve had to get purposefully proactive about not wallowing in self-pity and the following is what has helped…

First, I’ve compiled a migraine list of all those people I know who suffer similarly.  Then, as I go about my reduced-activity day, I pray for them that they will be migraine-free, that they will find relief, that their triggers will become clear to them.  This helps me so much because it takes the focus off of my own situation and kills the pity party before it starts.  James 5:16 tells us that we are to “…pray one for another, that ye may be healed.”  It goes on to say that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

There is so much in that verse:

  1.  It promises that if I pray for others, I will experience healing.  Now whether that’s healing from my own migraines or simply from my pity party, it still promises healing!
  2. It satisfies my need to feel accomplished.  My prayers ‘avail much’ – they are making things happen.  Lying on my bed, unable to physically do much, I can pray and therefore am accomplishing much!

So, if you are a migraine-sufferer, please contact me and I will add you to my “migraine sufferer’s prayer list.”  It’s already 10-ladies strong and that’s just from local friends…

The second thing I do is thank God for every little thing.  Now, when I first started doing this, I knew my thankfulness was contrived.  To put it simply, I felt like a fake.  I wasn’t really thankful for anything, I was just too angry about losing another day to a headache to be thankful.  But, reminding myself that everything that happens to me is filtered through God’s loving hand, helped tremendously.  Once I got a handle on that and confessed my anger, my thankfulness became genuine. 

Now, when I say I thank God, I mean I thank Him for everything.  I thank Him that I have access to ice since ice provides such relief.  I thank Him for hot showers, since hot-then-cold showers provide relief.  I thank Him for angelic children, who know the drill if mommy has to lie down with her ice pack. 

I Thess. 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  It is God’s will that we are thankful!  That’s as clear as can be:  we are to “Give Thanks!”  Why?  “For this is the will of God…”

   

Finally, I sing praise songs…out loud (and I’m sure when I’m at my worst it sounds pitiful).  Recently, I briefly heard a speaker on Moody Radio mention this, but I cannot remember any details other than this:  singing out loud when you are discouraged can be a balm.  And you know what?  There is something about hearing yourself sing a song of thanksgiving to God that encourages the soul. 

So that’s how I personally preempt a pity party.  To be honest, when I feel badly, all three of them do not come naturally, but I just start.  Starting is the hardest part, but once I start praying, thanking God, and praising Him, it becomes natural, and lifts my flagging spirit.  The best part?  Doing so refocuses my perspective and then I don’t have to worry about the outcome or the future.  I can simply rest in Him and have the confidence that His will can be fulfilled through my life, no matter how reduced my abilities often are!

Posted by: Jennifer | February 12, 2010

A Picture Worth A Thousand Promises

 

Last September some wonderful friends invited us to spend Memorial weekend in the Florida Keys.  Unfortunately, however, we were in the midst of a battle with a rare infection residing in my eldest daughter’s mastoid bone.  Having already endured two painful surgeries, she was facing another the following week.  In addition, she received daily IV meds via PICC line, a catheter inserted into her left arm that ran all the way to her heart.  That line involved multiple precautions, so we turned down the invitation.

On the Thursday before Memorial weekend, my daughter was deftly walking through the house, IV pole in hand, when I heard a screech, a clatter, and a terrible wail. I ran out and stared without comprehension at the PICC line—no longer in her arm, but lying on the carpet.  After multiple phone calls, her doctors declared an “IV rest” until after surgery.  We knew just where to rest… the Florida Keys!

On our first morning there, I woke early and sat out on the patio with my Bible in hand.  The fact that God knew how desperately our entire family needed a break from all things medical struck me as magnificent.  The fact that He knew a little girl needed to run and sweat and get wet before another surgery overwhelmed me.  And there, while I was praising and thanking Him, the sun rose, a beautiful picture of promises fulfilled.  Right then, I snapped a picture—a picture that remains a stunning reminder of God’s loving hand on every aspect of our lives.

Posted by: Jennifer | February 1, 2010

Missing my tea cup and other sob stories

Today was colored a dull, fuzzy, grey – compliments of yet another migraine.  I managed the day in segments by spending some quality time with my icepack when the pain reached the “I-can’t-function” phase.  Thankfully, that worked, and although I am still dull, fuzzy, and feeling confused (please don’t check my IQ right now), I made it without having to call for any reinforcements.

I’m in the middle of reading the book, Heal Your Headache.  The 1.2.3. Program for Taking Charge of your Pain, and I’ve decided I’m going to pull out all the stops and follow that program as closely as possible.  Guess what this means?  Cutting out more foods…The book has a laundry list of possible migraine triggers.  The good news?   Due to my many food intolerances, I’ve already cut out the majority of them.  The bad news?   No more chocolate, at least not for a couple of months.  Ghirardelli dark chocolate chip stock is about to plummet.

About a week ago, a wonderful lady responded to my migraine article on the celiac.com website and suggested I cut out all caffeine.   Cutting caffeine cut out her migraines, so one week ago, I spent a day in bed with a migraine, and what I can only assume was full-blown caffeine withdrawal.  Now, I’m a tea drinker, and you wouldn’t think that the amount of caffeine in tea could do such a thing to a person, but I guess when you live with a cup of dark, hot, black tea in your hand all day long, it adds up. 

The first few days were very difficult, but I am so tired of migraines controlling my otherwise happy days, that I’ve kept it up.  Yesterday was my best day – I had so much energy, I couldn’t believe it.  Today, unfortunately, was just the opposite, but when in life is anything smooth sailing? 

Now, according to the book, once I achieve “headache control”, I can slowly start adding back the trigger foods which means there is chocolate in my future.  But, back to that food list – no citrus, no nuts, no raisins….and just what is a gluten/dairy intolerant person supposed to snack on?  Something, I guess, but that’s not the focus, the focus is a day, a week, a month, and maybe even a year without a migraine.  I figure I lose about 2 months out of every year to headaches, just think how much more I could write if that didn’t occur!!!

Then there’s the medicine.  According to the doctor who wrote the book, most migraine medicines cause rebound headaches.  For now, the best way to prevent that is to ride out the pain without any significant meds.  This will actually save me a lot of money (have you priced a single Imitrex pill lately?) and will prevent a lot of nasty side effects, so I’m on board. The first day I had the headache without meds, my husband was home and kindly rotated my ice packs out for me all day.  Today wasn’t as severe.  Maybe there is clear-headed hope in my near future….I’ll keep you posted!

Posted by: Jennifer | January 31, 2010

A picture worth a thousand memories

After an hour of playing with every picture editor I could find on my computer, I finally changed the “header”—the sunrise picture across the top of my blog.  If you count the hour  that I spent at a friend’s house receiving a free blog tutorial plus this last hour at home, I have some serious time invested in that header!  But, changing that picture was very important to me. 

You see, back in September some wonderful friends invited us to spend the long weekend at their house in the Florida Keys.  At the time, we were in the midst of a 2-year battle with a rare infection that had taken up residence in my eldest daughter’s mastoid bone (the bone behind her ear).  She had already endured two painful surgeries and was facing another in a few days when we received the invitation.  The only problem:  we couldn’t go.  To receive her IV meds, our little girl had a PICC line, a catheter inserted into her left arm that ran all the way to her heart.  Due to the proximity of the line to her heart, we had a laundry list of precautions, including keeping her dressing dry and no excessive sweating.  We knew taking a child to the Florida Keys and telling her she couldn’t sweat or get wet would have been tantamount to cruelty, so we turned down the invitation.

On the Thursday before that long weekend, my daughter was deftly walking through the house—she had had weeks of practice—carrying her IV pole with her free arm, when I heard a screech and clatter, followed by “Oh no!  Oh no!  Oh no!”  I ran out and stared without comprehension at the PICC line—no longer in her arm, but laying on the carpet.   We called the doctor, we called the nurse, we stopped short of calling 911 (thank goodness).  Children, I learned, were liable to rip their PICC lines out—it was quite common…

After many phone calls and call-backs, her doctors decided since she was only a few days from another surgery, they would just leave the line out and thus allow her body to rest.  I called my husband, and his first words were simply, “Well, now we can go to the Keys!”  And go to the Keys we did!

On our first morning there, I woke up early and sat out on the patio with my Bible in one hand and cup of tea in the other.  The fact that God knew how desperately our entire family needed a break from all things medical struck me as magnificent.  The fact that He knew a little girl needed to run and sweat and get wet before another surgery overwhelmed me.  And there, while I was praising and thanking Him, the sun rose, a beautiful picture of promises fulfilled.  Right then, I snapped this picture—a  picture that remains a stunning reminder of God’s loving hand on every aspect of my life and the life of my precious child.  So, what better picture to place at the head of this blog than one that brings to mind God’s loving care of His own?

Posted by: Jennifer | January 24, 2010

Hello!

Welcome to my blog!  I’m new at this, so it will take me awhile to navigate myself into a comfort zone, but nothing says it’s time to get started like an empty unwritten page!  My hope is that this blog will be a blend of the many interests that compete for space in my often overloaded head.  I plan to write about what God is doing in my life (devotionals), my love for fiction, my journey with celiac disease, my struggles with migraines, and my life as a homeschooling Mom of two.  I am finding out bit by bit, through various online communities that there are others out there with shared interests who have much to offer.  Just today, I received an online response to an article I wrote, and the advice was invaluable!  So, it’s time to start and with much trepidation, here goes…a first blog post!

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